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Home> Health and Lifestyle> Cures for what ails you


Think those little bothersome
ailments are just part of the game?

Amberly McAteer explores some minor pains that can cause big trouble and offers steps you can take to prevent them, so you’ll never be irritated again.  

By Amberly McAteer

Jogger's Nipple

Jogger’s Nipple

The deal: Jogger’s nipple is just about as painful as it sounds. The constant friction of a t-shirt chaffing with a jogger’s sensitive nipple area causes irritation and bleeding of the nipples. When the shirt is damp with sweat, it clings and makes matters worse, says Josh Martin, the varsity trainer at Sir Sanford Fleming College in Peterborough. But it’s not just a plague of long-distance runners; cyclists, weightlifters and rowers complain of the condition too.

The treatment: Once the damage has been done, it’s just a matter of waiting for it to heal, says Martin.

Prevent it! Applying some Vaseline before going on a run will reduce the friction in the area. The second method is to place a barrier – such as tape, plaster or guards for breastfeeding women – between the nipple and the shirt.

Charley Horse

The deal: Basketball players most commonly get charley horses, says varsity trainer Kristen Boisjoli at Niagara College. “They’re usually the result of a collision, when one player’s knee goes into another person’s thigh.” The result is a deep muscle bruise that causes stiffness and serious pain.

The treatment: Ice, ice and more ice, Boisjoli says. “Getting the inflammation down as quickly as possible is what’s going to take the pain away.”

Prevent it! Although collisions are part of any contact sport, charley horses are more likely to occur when you’re dehydrated, Boisjoli says. If you’re prone to the muscle spasms, drink plenty of water and eat fruits and vegetables that are high in potassium.

Swimmer's Ear

The deal: In the medical world, this ailment is referred to as otitis externa, and although it’s most commonly found in swimmers, water from a simple bath or shower can trigger it too, according to the Mayo Clinic’s website. The ear’s shape tips fluid outward, but excess water can accumulate in the ear and alter the acidity levels in the lining, leading to an invasion of bacteria.

The treatment: Applying heat will usually relieve the pain, but prescription eardrops are needed to get the acidity levels balanced again.

Prevent it! Mix equal parts rubbing alcohol and white vinegar to make your own eardrops. Apply three to four drops immediately after getting out of the pool – the mixture helps to dry out the ear canal and maintain acidic levels.

Swimmer's Ear

Jock Itch and Athlete’s Foot

Jock itch

The deal: That burning feeling in your loins is not always a good thing. It can sometimes be a fungus that grows in hot, humid environments, such as a locker room shower, and can spread to any area of the body. Jock itch is caused by the same bacteria as athlete’s foot and causes the affected area to burn and constantly itch. “When an athlete dries their feet and then their groin region with the same towel, the fungus can spread quite easily,” says Stephen Handel, varsity athletic trainer at Algonquin College.

The treatment: Handel recommends drying out the affected area. “That means keeping it clean and really going to town with the towel,” he says. Some powders available in pharmacies will “accelerate the healing” but just keeping the area clean and dry can kill the fungus.

Prevent it! Practicing good hygiene and common sense are the easiest ways to avoid this unpleasant skin infection. “Don’t just step on a towel and assume your feet are dry,” Handel says. Wearing sandals in the shower will help to prevent athlete’s foot and consequently stop jock itch from occurring. Also, wearing boxers instead of briefs will give the groin more room to breathe, allowing for a dryer, cooler climate in your shorts.

Shin Splints

The deal: A condition usually common among athletes who jump a lot – such as varsity volleyball players – shin splints is a broad term used for a wide variety of injuries on the front of the calf, including muscle tears in the area, a tiny fracture of the tibia, or a pulled muscle in the bottom of the foot that runs up the leg, says Handel.

The treatment: Handel says nearly half of the injuries he treats are related to shin splints, and the treatment – depending on the root cause of the pain – can be as easy as taping the lower half of your leg or getting a good pair of orthotics. “The problem usually starts in the foot and radiates to the leg, so foot support can often provide immediate relief.”

Prevent it! Ease into any exercise that’s going to directly impact those muscles. “Don’t go from doing nothing all summer long to an intense volleyball practice,” Handel says.